SCUTTLEBUTT 3727 - Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Scuttlebutt is published each weekday with the support of its sponsors,
providing a digest of major sailing news, commentary, opinions, features
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Today's sponsors: North Sails, Point Loma Outfitting, and Soft Deck
HARNESSING THE BEAST
With the cloud of death and destruction now hovering over the America's Cup
and the exceedingly powerful AC72, let's assume for a moment the sailors
will soon tame this beast of a boat. But for the four competing teams,
their mission is complicated by the schedule. Taming won't be enough; they
must have it fully trained.
The Louis Vuitton challenger series is in July and August, otherwise known
as the "season of nuclear winds". For the challenging team lucky enough to
win (or survive), they will advance to the more moderate winds of September
for the Match. But the defender is not much better off; they will be
training during 'nuclear' season.
Given the difference in San Francisco Bay wind strength from July through
to September, can the same design work effectively in both realms?
"I think the challengers and the defender will need to think about
developing boats that work well through the range of windspeeds,"
anticipates Pete Melvin, who is a member of the New Zealand design team.
"Average wind speed will be higher in the July-August period, but you can
still get windy days in September.
Since the protocol does state how competitors may substitute yachts between
the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup Match, or between different
stages of each series, this could lead to the development of specific modes
for the conditions.
"There is considerable debate as to how many measurement certificates will
be allowed during a series, and the outcome of that debate will have a
direct impact on how diverse your quiver of equipment will need to be,"
noted Melvin. "The AC72 Class Rule only allows one certificate at a time.
"The AC72 Class Rule also stipulates that you can only measure in one set
of hulls, daggerboards, and wing on a certificate. This was done to reduce
cost and complexity, and to promote the development of all-around gear
rather than condition-specific gear.
"For both the LVC and the Match, the current proposal is to allow boats to
have multiple pre-measured certificates. You would need to notify the
measurement committee the evening before if you were going to change your
configuration to a different certificate."
Time will tell if configuration changes become the result of performance
decisions or death and destruction. --
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IS YOUR BOAT SLOW OR IS IT SOMETHING ELSE?
By David Dellenbaugh, Speed & Smarts
As they say in therapy, the first step in solving any problem is
acknowledging you have that problem in the first place. Most sailors are
not shy about admitting they are slow; in fact, many are quick to blame
poor speed for a variety of mistakes. But if you want to improve your
racing results, you need an honest assessment of your strengths and
weaknesses - otherwise you will waste time working on the wrong things.
For example, if you get a bad start in every race of a regatta, it's hard
to blame your poor finishes on boatspeed. It may be easier to tell other
sailors that you lost the races because you were slow (rather than admit
you are a bad starter), but that won't help you improve for future events.
So, how do you know if you really have a speed problem? Start by asking
yourself a few questions:
- Have you been slow over and over in the same conditions?
- Were there usually boats nearby to give you good feedback about speed?
- Can you rule out strategic and tactical reasons for poor performance?
In sailing, as in life, there are often several possible explanations for
why a problem occurs. The secret to solving that problem is identifying the
'real' reason. When it feels like you are going slower than other boats,
for example, do you really have a case of the slows or could there be
another explanation? Here are a few possibilities... read on:
FORK IN THE ROAD
(November 27, 2012; Day 18) - The South Atlantic presented a fork in the
road today for the top five skippers in the Vendee Globe. As a result of
the St Helena High and a swirling depression off the coast of Argentina,
there were two options on the table:
Door #1: Head ESE in the breeze, make miles toward the Gough Island ice gate
but gamble that the St Helena High won't swallow you whole, or
Door #2: Head SSW, run out of breeze, bleed miles but position yourself
for the big wind that is coming.
The shuffling of the rankings show that Armel Le Cleac'h (FRA), Alex
Thomson (GBR), and Bernard Stamm (SUI) took the northerly route and gained,
while François Gabart (FRA) and Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) headed south and
have fallen back.
"You cannot be sure of anything," commented Le Cleac'h."We'll see how it
goes in a few days. I'll keep on with this plan. We are entering an
important moment of the race. At the beginning of the Vendee Globe, it was
more a speed race and now it's becoming strategic."
"While I have moved to second," noted Thomson, "there's no point in getting
excited though as ultimately it is a question of strategy. Jean Pierre Dick
has opted to take a more southerly route and will get the new wind first
when it comes in the next 24 hours. I will be one of the last to get the
new wind so I have to hope I continue to have wind for today and hope they
Top 5 of 20 - Rankings as of Tuesday 27 November 2012, 20h00 (FR)
1. Armel Le Cleac'h (FRA), Banque Populaire: 19485.4 nm Distance to Finish
2. Alex Thomson (GBR), Hugo Boss: 155.6 nm Distance to Lead
3. François Gabart (FRA), Macif: 193.1 nm DTL
4. Bernard Stamm (SUI), Cheminees Poujoulat: 217.6 nm DTL
5. Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Virbac Paprec 3: 304.2 nm DTL
Full rankings: http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/ranking.html
BACKGROUND: Twenty skippers began the 7th edition of the Vendee Globe, a
solo, non-stop around the world race in the IMOCA Open 60 class. Starting
in Les Sables d'Olonne, France on November 10, the west to east course
passes the three major capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn before
returning to Les Sables d'Olonne. In the 2008-9 edition, Michel Desjoyeaux
(FRA) set a new race record by completing the course in 84 days. --
ANATOMY OF A SOUTHERN OCEAN STORM
Welcome to the Southern Ocean. The Vendee Globe leaders are on the cusp of
the Roaring Forties, where they will be swept into the depressions that
roil ceaselessly across the Southern Ocean.
By hooking into the right place on these depressions they could cover 500
miles a day for days on end - or fall a very long way behind their rivals.
One thing's for sure: how and when hook into the first of these depressions
could define the outcome of the race.
"The speed of these boats is phenomenal," explained navigator and
meteorologist Chris Tibbs. "If you were to take an average cold front
running at 25-30 knots, the catching up speed is reasonably low. If they
pick up quite a few hundred miles in front and it's only catching up at 5
knots they could ride that at a good 20 knots until the system fades,
covering 500 miles a day."
It's vital for a following pack of sailors to try and enter the Southern
Ocean on the same low pressure system as the leader. If they don't and they
'miss the first train', they will not be able to reach any skippers ahead -
it's not feasible to catch up across the ridges of high pressure that
separate these lows.
So there's a real possibility that winner of the Vendee Globe is in the
making now. Barring damage or breakages, the victor is likely to come from
the group that catches that first low pressure. -- Elaine Bunting, Yachting
World, full report: http://tinyurl.com/YW-112712
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TOO MANY CLASSES MAKE SAILING A "HARD SELL"
By Roger McMillan, Australian Sailing + Yachting
In some ways the wide variety of craft that are sailed from our beaches
enhance the sport. There is something for everyone, from a slow and safe
tub for the conservative amongst us to a flying skiff or multihull for the
more adventurous and sometimes plain mad!
But the plethora of designs makes it very hard for sailing to be taken
seriously by the mainstream media.
I recall a situation in 2010 when Tom Slingsby had just won his third Laser
World Championship and an Etchells World Championship within two weeks of
each other. I contacted the sailing writer for a major Australian newspaper
to point out Tom's successes, one of which was achieved on his birthday and
the other of which was accomplished with John Bertrand, the first
non-American skipper to win the America's Cup. The journalist in me said
this was a damn good story.
"Yeah, I heard about it," came the reply, "But I'm a bit busy with the
Commonwealth Games at the moment..."
I'm convinced that the reason we aren't taken seriously as a sport is
because there are just too many "championships", both here and around the
world. The really important and hard-to-win ones get swamped by the
also-rans, which are given the same prominence and importance by our
Did you know, for example, that to become an ISAF-recognised keelboat class
(over 15m) you need only two boats in each of three countries on two
continents? I'm guessing there's a financial benefit to ISAF involved in
having lots of classes - it's certainly not in the best interests of the
Below I've floated some ideas on how we can correct this "problem". Some of
them might not hold up to scrutiny from better-equipped brains than mine,
but I think it's important we at least debate the subject. -- Read on:
OLD AND STUBBORN
When the 68th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race gets underway on Boxing Day,
December 26, in Sydney Harbor, at centre stage of the 628nm classic will be
local yachtsman Syd Fischer, a national living treasure who is still in the
grip of finish line fever.
At the age of 85, when most men of his age might be shuffling around a
retirement village in their slippers with their trousers braced up around
their chest, Fischer wants to win line honours amid the 80-boat fleet -
He's taken over the boat to do it, Investec Loyal, last year's first across
the line. The 100-foot super maxi becomes the latest iteration of Fischer's
Ragamuffin series, Ragamuffin Loyal.
Syd - lean, leather-skinned, laconic, highly competitive and still the
subject of discussion for his exploits on and off the water - personifies
Sydney: he won't lie down.
Fischer will be on his 44th Sydney-Hobart. He has already won line honours
wins with Ragamuffin in 1988 and 1990, with an overall win in 1992 aboard
an updated Ragamuffin.
This year he is leasing Investec Loyal with a view to knocking off
five-time line honours winner and race record holder (1:18:40:10 set in
2005) Wild Oats XI, whose skipper, Mark Richards, is just young enough to
be his grandson.
Last year Loyal, skippered by owner Anthony Bell, beat Wild Oats XI in the
fourth closest finish in the race's history; three minutes and eight
seconds. -- Full report:
* The Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association will be holding their Semi
Annual (Winter) Meeting on Saturday, January 12, 2013 in Park City, UT. Any
topic for discussion or which can properly be acted on at the meeting shall
be submitted at least 30 days (Thursday, December 13, 2012) prior to the
* (November 27, 2012) - The World Sailing Speed Record Council announced
the establishment of a new Outright World and World "B" Division (150-235
square feet) Sailing Speed Record. On Nov. 16, Paul Larsen (AUS) piloted
Vestas SailRocket 2 to a speed of 59.23 kts on Walvis Bay, Namibia. The
previous Outright record of 55.65 kts was set in 2010 by Kite Boarder Rob
Douglas (USA) at Luderitz, Namibia. The previous "B" category record of
54.08 kts was set in 2012 by Larsen. A further claim by Larsen for a speed
in excess of these records is currently being assessed. --
* (November 27, 2012) - Britain's Ben Ainslie, who cemented his place in
sporting history by securing his fourth consecutive gold medal at the 2012
Olympics, today announced his retirement from Olympic sailing. Ainslie
plans to focus on preparing his challenge for the 35th America's Cup. --
Full report: http://tinyurl.com/BA-112712
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Scuttlebutt strongly encourages feedback from the Scuttlebutt community.
Either submit comments by email or post them on the Forum. Submitted
comments chosen to be published in the newsletter may be limited to 250
words. Authors may have one published submission per subject, and should
save their bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere.
* From John Harwood-Bee:
In Scuttlebutt 3726, Kiteboard Course World Champion Johnny Heineken
comments, "I'm definitely disappointed in that this was the one shot I had
to be involved with a sport at the highest level".
Do not be disappointed Johnny. The Olympics can hardly be described as the
highest level of sport when so many political and obscure decisions are
made regarding events, equipment, and participants. The true highest level
in any sport will always be World Championships where you will be competing
against the very best in your discipline.
Forget the hype; just revel in your deserved success at the 'Worlds'.
* From William Sandberg:
A wise person once said that nobody is irreplaceable. That person never met
Arthur Wullschleger. Patty O'Donnell's beautifully written piece captured
the essence of this very special man (Eight Bells, Scuttlebutt 3726), but
I'd like to add a little known fact.
While I'm sure he occasionally accepted a drink, meal or even a hotel room
on a rare occasion, he almost always paid his own way to and at every
regatta. Granted he was successful enough in business to have the
wherewithal to do so, but I suspect if he did not have two nickels he would
have done the same.
Arthur ran the best protest room I have ever seen. You quickly learned that
you better have your facts straight or you were toast. Long drawn out
hearings were not his forte; he cut to the chase and moved on.
I know of no one who was as universally loved, admired and respected as
Arthur. I'm sure I join with sailors around the world in saying "thank you
Tuna for all you did. Our sport is better because of you. There will never
be another like you."
* From Louay Habib:
I had the pleasure to meet Tuna at this year's BVI Spring Regatta. He may
have been in his 90s but he still had all his marbles intact.
He told me about the first use of on-the-water umpires in the America's
Cup. He said prior to that, every night, the teams were in the protest room
until the early hours and were not getting much sleep. So on-the-water
umpires were introduced to stop that.
Tuna was a guy who liked things settled on the water. I heard he could be a
hard man to impress in a protest room, especially if you were trying to win
a protest on a technicality and that is something we should all appreciate.
Rest in Peace.
* From Andrew Troup:
Regarding Michael Craddock query in Scuttlebutt 3726 concerning the impact
that volcanic eruptions have contributed to the Global Warming theory,
volcanoes indeed do emit prodigious quantities of CO2, but averaged over
time it's still only about 1/100 of what human activities emit.
Moreover they've always done so, so even if their emissions were comparable
to ours, they are not contributing to the steady increase in CO2 levels
which nobody denies.
This increase does, on the other hand, correspond closely with increasing
human emissions, and carbon isotope fingerprints validate this linkage
unambiguously. Finally, because of the particulates which volcanoes also
emit, blocking incoming solar energy, their net warming effect is
This link explains the information concerning the earth's natural carbon
* From Kay Kilpatrick:
In response to Michael Craddock query and the editorial in the NY Times, I
must first admit I am indeed a card carrying scientist who studies global
sea surface temperature for a living -- and therefore on the dole and can't
be trusted -- I pause to put on armor and my life jacket.
It is a good thing that we are all sailors; if the climate dialogue
continues to be perpetually distracted by the question "Is climate change
human induced?" rather than how are we going to deal with the consequences,
our sailing skills will be in high demand in a future Water World.
As the original editorial piece in the New York Times stated: "There are
two basic ways to protect ourselves from sea level rise: reduce it by
cutting pollution, or prepare for it by defense and retreat. To do the job,
we must do both. We have lost our chance for complete prevention; and
preparation alone, without slowing emissions, would - sooner or later -
turn our coastal cities into so many Atlantises."
Having just suffered through an election year in the US, we are all too
familiar with the sound bite spin in regard to communicating important
ideas by political parties. Unfortunately the same polarizing dialogue
often hinders the climate discussion. -- Forum, read on:
EDITOR'S NOTE: The last time the topic of Global Warming snuck into
Scuttlebutt, we were barraged with opposing views. This time the naysayers
have been mostly quiet. Regardless, this thread is now closed in the
Newsletter but is welcome to continue in the Forum:
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